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Two-thirds of recent law graduates earn under £20k

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But education add-ons could see lawyer salaries rocket

Two-thirds of law graduates earn less than £20,000 six months after they’ve graduated, the highest percentage among all degree disciplines.

Research by the Higher Education Statistics Authority reveals that almost a third of recent graduates end up in jobs that pay less than £20,000, but this is doubled to 64% when you look at law specifically.

The data, recently reproduced by the CIPD, shows 28% of law degree-holders are on £20,000-£30,000 shortly after donning their gown and mortar. Five percent are on £30,000 to £40,000, while 3% earn more than £40,000.

These salaries may seem instinctively low for a degree as lucrative as law, and are certainly low when compared to graduates from other disciplines.

Only 59% of languages students who graduated in 2016 begin on less than £20,000, for history and philosophy boffins it’s 50%, 49% for creative arts and design, 30% for social studies, 23% for business and administrative studies, and 19% for mass communications and documentation. Medicine and dentistry students are the highest earners right off the bat, just 2% getting less than £20,000 and a whopping 52% heading straight onto £30,000-£40,000.

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But, as anyone who has tried to forge a career in law for themselves will know, it takes more than having studied the subject at undergraduate level to make big money.

Law is perhaps unusual in that big-paying employers require extra qualifications before they’ll take you on in trainee roles, these qualifications being the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) and the Legal Practice Course (LPC). The earnings figures above only include those who have graduated and are now in work, not those who have gone on to further education or have completed further education.

Obviously this isn’t great news for tired-of-studying law graduates, most of whom have about £50,000 of debt. However, money-chasers can take solace in the fact just an extra few years could see your salaries skyrocket.

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41 Comments

Anonymous

Paralegal salaries frequently £14-18k outside of London. 🙁

(15)(0)

Rick

A lot of trainees in Northern Ireland make between £10,000 and £11,000. Law society minimum is £250p/w when working full time. The LPC equivalent is intertwined with the training contract so the weeks where they are studying 4 days per week and in the office 1day per week they make £50.

Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman is currently offering a trainee role for £7.05 per hour (aged 21 – 24), £7.50 (aged 25 and over). Maybe around £14,000 per year if only working contracted hours?

This is coupled with debts from their LPC ‘equivalent’ course.

Something is broken in the legal profession where law graduates throughout the UK work so hard and are paid pennies.

(16)(0)

Adam Smith

I don’t think ALL graduates work SO hard – the labour market, at the end of the day, is just that: a market.

If you have value, the market will see that. If not, take your 16k paralegal job and be happy with it.

(5)(14)

Anonymous

There are many graduates from Russell Group unis with LLBs and LLMs, that are unemployed.

(2)(0)

Adam Smith

I don’t think that guarantees any degree of intelligence or suitability for a career as a lawyer though, merely an indicator.

Do not underestimate the power of the invisible hand.

Anonymous

I’m glad the pic showed only the first part of Alex’s “elephant impression”.

(11)(0)

Slave to the wage

I’m a trainee in London on £17,000. Bad times.

(9)(0)

Anonymous

What firm?

(3)(0)

Anonymous

My guess is Duncan Lewis?

(1)(0)

Dollar General

No way! Which firm, name and shame lad.

(2)(0)

Dollar General

LOLZ. Meanwhile I was packing in epic dolla as a US firm paralegal – £52 an hour in overtime. £1800 a week NET.

(3)(0)

Anonymous

Isn’t that because most are doing an LLM/LPC/BVPC six months after they graduate from their law degrees and thus are earning nothing at all?

(30)(3)

Anonymous

And I should do more than scan read the article – mea culpa.

(6)(4)

The Court of Piepowders

But LC have completely under-emphasized that fact here to make a meaningless point in the headline. This figure inherently excludes ANYONE taking a job in legal practice, academia and for that matter other professions like accounting. Of course the statistics for the people who studied law who didn’t find a TC/Pupillage look bad because a large number of these people will lack essential skills that would get them good jobs outside legal practice, at least when they graduate.

If they did the study two or three years after graduation then the numbers would be completely different and LC clearly knows this. This report has absolutely no practical value as an analysis of career and earnings prospects for law grads, as it picks an arbitrary point in time before most have started earning. No long-term conclusions can be drawn from it.

(7)(0)

Anonymous

But saying that – and yes, I’m having a conversation with myself – I’m hardly surprised, given that most of the top law students go on to further education or professional training, so you are only looking at a weird subsection of the graduates.

(9)(0)

US Firm Trainee

I don’t.

(10)(2)

Incontinent but still sexy

Are you Rupert de Beere’s sibling?

(0)(0)

Patrick

Me neither.

(2)(0)

Paul Allen

I still have a better apartment than you though, Patrick.

(2)(0)

Patrick

There is a moment of sheer panic when I realize that Paul’s apartment overlooks the park… and is obviously more expensive than mine.

(3)(0)

Anonymous

Don’tcha just love it when ex-Council high-rise flats are bought by developers, tatted up and sold as “luxury apartments”?

Jones Day puppy

Law degree is useless, it’s a scam. What’s the point of going through the pain for three years when you can do something like History, Arts, Geography or Music and still become a lawyer? Pff.

(17)(6)

Anonymous

1. A law degree lets you do it a year earlier than a non-law degree.
2. If you’re balking at three years of ‘pain’ at undergraduate level, you should consider whether law is the right career for you.

(29)(6)

Anonymous

The point being made is that you could spend three years at university studying something interesting and stimulating instead of law. And, unlike the position in other countries, you can catch up by doing a one year crammer before you go on to a very boring profession for what might be the rest of your life. If you studied history or art, you might have something to keep you interested and stimulated in the long years to come.

(17)(14)

Anonymous

Believe it or not, some people find law interesting and stimulating.

(33)(6)

Anonymous

Prestige and earnings means you can end up with a nice bit of crumpet over your arm as well.

Anonymous

And a huge percentage of trainees in City firms did a non – law degree

(7)(1)

Jones Day puppy

That’s the problem. The majority of city trainees and commercial bar pupils have not studied law. What the hell is the point of even touching LLB? Interesting and stimulating reading about trusts and useless lectures about leasehold covenants? Or perhaps ridiculously boring and pointless EU law lectures that will serve no purpose in the future? Which part is stimulating and/or interesting? Law degree is a scam and for those reading this, do not even think about commencing it; if you haven’t yet.

Anonymous

Questioning your credentials given your semicolon use..

Anonymous

It’s a 50/50 split. Stop pulling percentages out of your ass

Anonymous

Thank you for the suggestion of ‘doing something else’, however, it is too late for me. Send me back to 2000’s and believe me, I would have indeed studied anything else but law. Oh, and to those who say that they find LLB stimulating and interesting, please, give me a break.

(7)(2)

Anonymous

You bash the degree but want to go into the profession?

(0)(2)

Anonymous

Flooded market.

(15)(1)

Anonymous

Bear in mind that some of the biggest employers of new law graduates are the PI paralegal market and CMCs. You’ll regularly see starting salaries of £16,000 or lower (which was the starting salary offered to paralegals at Quindell/Slater & Gordon). Even after a raise after 1-2 years, most capped paralegals at £19k-£21k.

Clyde & Co Manchester aren’t much better (£18.5k defendant PI work), nor BLM (£19k) or DWF (£19k). And those are Manchester salaries; some of the more remote firms end up paying even lower.

(13)(0)

Anonymous

We should start a December croissant campaign where we supplement the cost of their supermarket croissants to allow them to stretch to the ‘finest’ range.

(0)(0)

US FIRM BIG BOI

Imagine studying all that time and then becoming a career paralegal on 16k..

(18)(0)

US firm toiler

That’s why you gotta paralegal at a dig bick US firm, making megadollars. UK firms are for wimps.

(2)(3)

Anonymous

Paralegal at a Manchester firm: £18k salary – £400ish rent and utilities within a reasonable commute to work (<1hour) – couple of hundred quid left over at the end of the month.

Paralegal at a London firm: £25k – £30k salary – £1500ish rent and utilities with a long commute (1-2 hours each way) – couple of quid left over end of the month.

I can see why regional firms are more attractive, regardless of the better employ-ability potential that London offers.

(2)(0)

Anonymous

Started on £12.5k in the Midlands. Lots of other able grads on about £19k in London.
All to do with supply and demand; far too many graduates for too few positions.

(3)(0)

Anonymous

Considering that lots of law grads would be doing the LPC/BPTC and the ones in jobs are deferring for a TC, this is not surprising. It makes no sense to compare at 6 months out. try 1 year out when the LPC/BPTC grads actually start working

(0)(0)

Slave to the wage

That’s right folks. The firm paying trainees £17,000 is Duncan Lewis. For the record I got AAA at A-level. 1st in law and yet here I am. As I said, bad times people bad times.

(2)(0)

Comments are closed.

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